Heavy rain, wild winds lash Australia, forcing evacuations

Heavy rain, wild winds lash Australia, forcing evacuations”

The NSW State Emergency Service said it had carried out 12 flood rescues so far, warning people to stay indoors and avoid driving through floodwaters.

The neighbouring states have received about 2,500 calls for assistance since Thursday, mostly for water damage to homes and fallen trees and power poles.

Images and footage from Byron Bay beaches show destruction to the sandbanks and surrounding vegetation as a result of the heavy tides and coastal erosion.

Currently Australia is experiencing a La Nina weather pattern, which typically brings more rainfall and tropical cyclones during the nation's summer.

Australian authorities have issued evacuation warnings for low-lying towns in northern New South Wales (NSW) as storms batter the nation's east coast.

Byron Mayor Simon Richardson told BBC that the severe weather was smashing what was left.

Forecasters have warned there could be even more damage to come, with warnings of flash flooding, risky surf conditions, extreme coastal erosion and record tides along southeast Queensland and northern NSW on Tuesday.

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"Rainfall rates could be locally enhanced with thunderstorms, leading to the possibility of very heavy rainfall and risky flash flooding along coastal areas", a spokesperson said.

Beaches all over the regions are closed as the large swells are unsafe.

In some places, around 400 mm of rain has been recorded in the past 24 hours, and the weather bureau said that the heavy rains may continue until late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

The Bureau of Meteorology also warned of major coastal erosion in northeast NSW and southeast Queensland due to "large waves in excess of eight metres and gale-force winds".

Rainfall rates are expected to ease on Wednesday morning as the trough weakens and extends south.

The Queensland Fraser Islands, a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site was not spared from the rainy weather.

Rainfall on Monday, December 15 topped 100-200 millimetres in several areas including Eungela, which experienced 218 millimetres, and Springbrook, which lies just inland of the Gold Coast, and has been hit with 967 millimetres of rain over the last week.

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